|Sunlight through leaves, 2014|
Unless I'm miscounting, 86 faculty were hired in the general chemistry space over the past year, and 86 again for last season. Now, I'm willing to admit that we haven't caught everyone hired over the past 2 years; heck, I'm even willing to suggest that the actual figure might double.
So, let's say that, according to our bloggy survey, 172 new faculty start every year in Chemistry-themed fields. Is that a lot? No, not according to the 2012 NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates. This study claims that U.S. schools graduated 2,418 Chemistry doctorates. Of those, only about half knew what they were going to do after graduation - their "definite commitment."
According to some more NSF numbers, almost a third of all physical science students go on to careers in "Academe." Perhaps this category catches new professors, adjuncts, non-tenure-track, and postdocs alike? (Leigh did this analysis much better than I!). For chemistry, NSF heard only 113 definite commitments in 2012 for non-postdoctoral academic employment. Even if we (generously) assume that they're all professors, that's only 5%!
Sadly, this number jives well with what our bloggy "New Hires" survey* captures. I'm seeing 7%, which is still a far cry from the 20% Ethan Perlstein suggests for the life sciences, or the NSF's 26% for chemistry.
Compare that against the 800 or so folks (33%) reporting postdoc landing spots. Or the 712 (29%) reporting that they're "seeking employment or study."
I guess professorships truly are the new alternative career.
*I'm fully willing to admit that NSF has statisticians, education specialists, and a tried-and-true method, whilst we have folks chiming in over the Internets. Still, I'd be typing a lot more if I'd've received 600 names instead of just under 100.